More mainlined small maps

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Jequ
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More mainlined small maps

Post by Jequ » March 5th, 2009, 8:47 am

Isar's Cross is a popular map because it is small and it provides interesting but still quite simple strategical decisions like the water village problem. I know it's not balanced but being fun to play is more important than balanced match-up.

So why isn't any other map of the same size than Isar's Cross mainlined? Because those of the maps what people like to play. Could any of the map designers do more small maps and if someone makes a small map which is quite balanced, would you add it to mainline? Of course, people can host their map on the add-on server but that is not the same thing than aiming for reasonable balance with a team of MP developers.

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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Noy » March 5th, 2009, 10:13 am

Jequ wrote:Isar's Cross is a popular map because it is small and it provides interesting but still quite simple strategical decisions like the water village problem. I know it's not balanced but being fun to play is more important than balanced match-up.

So why isn't any other map of the same size than Isar's Cross mainlined? Because those of the maps what people like to play. Could any of the map designers do more small maps and if someone makes a small map which is quite balanced, would you add it to mainline? Of course, people can host their map on the add-on server but that is not the same thing than aiming for reasonable balance with a team of MP developers.
As you noted, Isars and maps its size aren't balanced, since small maps tend to favour certain factions over others. This is why we've generally pushed for maps around the size of Morituri 4 and above into mainline while only retaining Isar's cross at this time. As you noted people can always upload their maps onto the server and have people download them from there. But we're not going to add something we know is unbalanced; I mean a similar argument could be made for rumbles too...
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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Nebiros » March 6th, 2009, 1:13 pm

Isar's Cross is a popular map because games played on it are very short, and luck plays a large role, so unskilled players can still win sometimes. For an unskilled player, three short games, one of which you win by luck, is probably more satisfying than one longer game which you lose because of your lack of skill.

It's not popular among stronger players, partly because of the large role of luck, and partly because of the high probability of getting a very much worse partner that will drag you down.

If someone made a very tiny (Clash is small for a 4p, so how else can you describe Isar's?) but balanced map, it probably would be included in mainline, but that is either very difficult or impossible because of, for example, the role of mobility in faction balance. Feel free to try, though.

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Turuk
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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Turuk » March 6th, 2009, 1:54 pm

Nebiros wrote:......
Noy, I hear an echo.


Jequ, you are free to make small maps that you could distribute in a map pack that are say, only balanced for certain factions. Then players would know that if they played with any others, they would be at a disadvantage. While it would not be mainlined, this might provide you with more options, and you could provide them to others as well through the add-on server, as long as you outlined the factions to be used on each map.
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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by grrr » March 6th, 2009, 8:30 pm

1.6 will come with Underworld, a very enjoyable, small 2v2 map. As far as I can say it is better balanced than Isars and Mori 4p.

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Derekkk
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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Derekkk » March 8th, 2009, 8:50 pm

I am just wondering if it is feasible to state clearly in the multiplayer map descriptions whether they are balanced or not.

At the moment, this is not really necessary as the policy is that most of the maps included are balanced.

But from what I can see, there are two camps of people playing standard wesnoth maps: the more experienced players who would detect most imbalances and the more novice players who would be happy with maps which are only reasonably balanced.

Ideally, including only the balanced maps in mainline would make both camps satisfied. But the problem is that balancing a map in wesnoth is difficult, and it poses a serious number of constraints on how the map should be constructed.

Say Isar's cross, which is not balanced. Its small size prohibits it from being made balanced, but it is still an interesting map with high playability. The map offers what the balanced maps can't offer, and has served a purpose of diversifying multiplayer gameplay.

I think it is important that in mainline, Wesnoth can showcase what it can do and has got, so that new players will stay and continue playing after their first go. And significantly, the new player are the group of people who are less likely to download add-ons, so placing less balanced maps only in add-ons would mean that some of those new players will never see a part of wesnoth which might interest them.

It's fair to say that a large portion of the multiplayer community are novices, and so including more varied but slightly unbalanced maps wouldn't only benefit new players. The add-ons function at the moment has the drawback of a lack of distinction between quality packs and those below-par.

Also, although I might be alone in this, I have realised that there has been a push recently on making the maps as balanced as possible. But that has had it toll in making the different maps blander and in certain aspects converge (e.g. size). The diversity that wesnoth multiplayer used to have is slowly being sapped away. (Is this one of the reasons why very few people are playing 1.6?)

Therefore, I am wondering if wesnoth is to include some less balanced maps, can it say in the map description (which can be called upon by placing the mouse cursor on the mini-map when selecting which map to host) whether the map is balanced or not. That way, the players won't confused a "fun" map with a serious competitive map and what's more, if it brings about the possibility of the inclusion of more maps, the diversity can even be enhanced.

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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by JW » March 8th, 2009, 9:51 pm

That's not a horrible idea, but then you have to ask what maps would you make that are fun and unbalanced? How would they differ from balanced maps in a way that makes them more fun? How would you keep them "relatively balanced"?

Seems like a lot of work to me, though I do understand the point you are trying to make.

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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by jb » March 9th, 2009, 2:40 pm

I am just wondering if it is feasible to state clearly in the multiplayer map descriptions whether they are balanced or not.
Morituri 4 and Isar's Cross are the only 2 maps that are not considered balanced atm. This is due simply to their small size, which also makes them popular amongst new players who don't have the patience to get involved in a deep game.

Doc and I are currently working hard on several maps, and we are both in 100% agreement that Isar's types maps will slowly get phased out. This means the chance for "more" smaller maps is less than slim. Getting more unique maps that each play differently is certainly going to be a focus and evolving philosophy.
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Derekkk
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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Derekkk » March 9th, 2009, 8:24 pm

I certainly do hope that on phasing out smaller maps, something else can be offered to cover that gap in gameplay. IMO, removing Isar's cross in Wesnoth is a bit like removing Eastern Invasion from Wesnoth. It's loved by the players and it's hard to substitute.

The many balanced maps included in mainline at the moment all feel pretty much the same for people like me who don't play expertly. Thus including more of them wouldn't improve the game at all from my point of view. But including Isar's cross would.
That's not a horrible idea, but then you have to ask what maps would you make that are fun and unbalanced?
To see if a map is fun, just ask some of the players. To see if a map is relatively balanced, ask doc? It's definitely easier than making a map fully balanced.

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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Turuk » March 9th, 2009, 9:46 pm

Derekkk wrote:Thus including more of them wouldn't improve the game at all from my point of view. But including Isar's cross would.

Quote:
That's not a horrible idea, but then you have to ask what maps would you make that are fun and unbalanced?


To see if a map is fun, just ask some of the players
As you noted, this is all from your point of view, and thus to see if a map is fun, you are asking players for what their point of view, which is fine. But what establishes them as qualified to comment on whether or not a map is fun and unbalanced? What would the determinators be? How many players would you ask, and what players would you ask?
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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Derekkk » March 9th, 2009, 10:31 pm

Just like asking whether Wesnoth is a fun game or not, it's a subjective question. I guess the developers have the final say in all issues, but I would also believe that they would like more people to enjoy wesnoth too. So one of my wishes is that wesnoth can be more inclusive, rather than exclusive.

No one map can satisfy every person, but if there is a large following for a map, it's good evidence that it's a fun map. There are no hardline rules or clear black and white. But the beauty of Open-source development is that everything can be fine-tuned as you go along.

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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Turuk » March 9th, 2009, 10:53 pm

Derekkk wrote:Just like asking whether Wesnoth is a fun game or not, it's a subjective question. I guess the developers have the final say in all issues, but I would also believe that they would like more people to enjoy wesnoth too. So one of my wishes is that wesnoth can be more inclusive, rather than exclusive.
I understand that, but in a game where a majority of people in multiplayer never even register on the forums, who would you ask in order to establish a "large following" exists for a map?
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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Noy » March 9th, 2009, 11:49 pm

Derekkk wrote:Just like asking whether Wesnoth is a fun game or not, it's a subjective question. I guess the developers have the final say in all issues, but I would also believe that they would like more people to enjoy wesnoth too. So one of my wishes is that wesnoth can be more inclusive, rather than exclusive.

No one map can satisfy every person, but if there is a large following for a map, it's good evidence that it's a fun map. There are no hardline rules or clear black and white. But the beauty of Open-source development is that everything can be fine-tuned as you go along.
No the beauty of open source is that if you want to take responsibility and do it yourself, it offers the opportunity for you to do so. Open source does not mean people get to do nothing and yet have a say in development. This is not a democracy, nor can it be run like one.

If we made development as inclusive as you desire, we'd have terrible balance, crap maps, and game design aimed at the lowest common denominator of users, rather than a complex game aimed at challenging high level users. Development would be guided by the capricious passions of the users, which would make the project a incoherent mess.
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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by csarmi » March 10th, 2009, 6:51 am

Just a note that might interest some:

When we started playing wesnoth with my cousin, we thought sbout moving to multiplayer directly. We didn't think about joining the official server ofc - because we didnt think it would have a real, supported multi server (most games we had experience with didnt).
But that's besides the point.

So we went through the multiplayer maps included in the game and our impression was that all of them were too SMALL to be playable. It never occured to us that they could be too big.

Later on, I realized why you don't really need much bigger maps for interesting gameplay, but my impression still is, that if anything, the mainline maps are small...

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Re: More mainlined small maps

Post by Yogibear » March 10th, 2009, 12:37 pm

Derekkk wrote:I guess the developers have the final say in all issues, but I would also believe that they would like more people to enjoy wesnoth too.
Yes on both :) .

Actually, i think we are indeed sort of ambiguous about the mainline multiplayer maps. We do have a certain standard of balance and uniqueness we want to keep. And like for example looking at portraits it is a very high standard.

Isar's cross and the rumble map don't meet that standard. Now we simply need to make a decision: Do we want to keep the standard or not?

I do not agree, that if we include some fun but imbalanced maps, multiplayer would suddenly turn into a bunch of crap. After all, users can still decide by themselves what map they want to play and the balanced maps don't mysteriously vanish all of a sudden, just because there is some more imbalanced ones.

However, what counts for many people is the first impression. The art guys (and girls, sorry kitty :wink: ) have decided that they want to make that impression as good as possible. Which is a wise choice in my opinion. For multiplayer, the situation is more complicated, because people have a lot of different expectations. Some only enjoy small maps as being fun, others regard balance as more important.
If we stick with the high standard (and Noy's statement implies that for me) and we define balance as the main criteria for that standard, then i suggest we should be consequent and remove isar's and rumble from mainline.
Instead we should provide an add-on (maybe "mp fun pack" or something :) ), that contains such stuff and is referenced accordingly, for example with a forum sticky or a mention in the server greeting message.
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